What’s the right decision in buying boat equipment?

Getting into rafting or a hard-sided drift boat can be downright expensive. When starting to do research on what you’ll need, it all can add up rather quickly. Trust me. I’ve spent the better part of seven years building up our raft and there are still things we’d like to improve upon but all that comes with costs.

The question we start asking is do we buy “used” or “new” when looking at finally investing into a river-worthy vessel. My answer is “both.” There are some things we can get away with finding on the used market and others might be best left to purchasing brand new. Our family, like many, didn’t have a ton of disposable income to throw into a complete boat setup from day one. Instead, we started with the bare necessities and slowly built into the overnight river tripping raft we have currently. Year after year, we’d make a singular new purchase for the boat whether it was a new lean bar, a dry box, a table or whatever we thought would enhance our overnighting ability off our raft.

Of course, buying used gear is always a part of the equation. We are both fortunate and unfortunate at times to live near a large city so the local Craigslist ads can be a good starting point. Websites like Moutainbuzz or even Facebook Marketplace can be another great resource as well. Some local raft shop, like Down River Equipment, host a big spring boat swap every year that draws many wanting to upgrade or get into the sport.

Buying used gear, while saving you money, can come at a cost if you don’t look closely. For safety’s sake it’s good to look at every nook and cranny while making sure there are no leaks in the boat or too many patches from years of use. If you’re buying from a retailer, they probably guarantee that the boat or gear has been checked thoroughly before listing it for sale. That’s the best solution to feel confident in buying used gear. Used gear is less expensive, and that’s fantastic, but make sure that you’ve done your due diligence when giving the gear a look.

New gear. What can I say? It’s shiny and hasn’t seen an ounce of dirt yet. It might even have that new gear smell too but let’s be real it can be very expensive. These days it seems like a lot of new gear has a large waiting list as well so that may factor into your decision too. That said, new gear has that guarantee and more importantly a warranty that will cover you in case of a malfunction. In my opinion, I’d probably stick to buying new PFD’s and safety equipment over used versions.

Whatever you decide there’s no wrong answer. It’s a new sport for you and maybe your family so the investment is worth a thoughtful decision.

By Josh Duplechian.